The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu Natal appeals to government not to shut down schools in line with the so called Transformation of the schooling system (TSS) programme.
About ten years ago, the Department of Education started this programme called the Transformation of the schooling system whereby the schools categorized as non-viable are supposed to be either shut down or merged with others. According to this TSS programme, non-viable schools are Primary schools with an enrolment of 135 learners and below, and Secondary schools with an enrolment of 200 learners and below.
In a response to a question asked by the Hon Mntomuhle Khawula (IFP) to the MEC for Education in KwaZulu-Natal, Hon Kwazi Mshengu, about how many schools have been closed in the province since TSS started, the department responded that to date 236 schools have been closed in the province. The question further enquired about how many more schools are targeted for closure in the province, per district, in accordance with TSS. The response gave the following shocking figures:
- Amajuba district – 28 schools
- Harry Gwala district – 100 schools
- Ilembe district – 106 schools
- King Cetshwayo district – 105 schools
- Pinetown district – 14 schools
- Ugu district – 85 schools
- Umgungundlovu district – 101 schools
- Umkhanyakude district -63 schools
- Umlazi district – 12 schools
- UMzinyathi district – 106 schools
- Uthukela district – 57 schools
- Zululand district – 162 schools
The total for the province is 939 schools. The department says that the closure for these schools will be staggered for five (5) years in accordance with certain requirements.
The IFP says that this is unacceptable and must be stopped with immediate effect. If schools are to be closed on the bases of TSS, the rural areas and townships of our province become the biggest victims. Obviously, because of the settlement patterns of the apartheid era, people are today migrating to big cities and towns. This is an international practice sparked by the social, economic and other conditions throughout the world. Therefore, the rural areas and townships of our province who suffered educational and development neglect under apartheid, are today suffering more hardships caused by the closure of schools in a post 1994 government.
The IFP has continuously maintained that the PPN allocation in the country should not be treated as a one shoe fits all because of these dynamics of the settlement patterns. Instead of shutting down schools, government should review the PPN policy.
With more pressures brought about by COVID 19 in our communities, enrolment numbers are likely to diminish even further in rural areas and townships when schooling resumes. Should TSS go ahead, it will bring a double blow to our rural areas and townships which are already suffering. In the schools that have been closed already, government left a promise of learner transport provision to compensate for the extended travel distances to learners. In most cases, as it is usual with this government, this promise was never honored.
Hon Mntomuhle B Khawula (MPL)
KZN Education portfolio committee member.
Contact no. 071 207 9445